Interdisciplinary – UROP Summer Symposium 2021


Seafood through Time: Predation as a Driver of the Bathymetric Distribution of Crinoids

Predation, arguably an important mechanism of natural selection, is thought to have played an especially significant role in the evolutionary history of crinoids. Crinoids are marine invertebrates with a very long evolutionary history (ca. 0.5 billion years). As obligate passive suspension feeders, crinoids use their arms to form a filter that captures particulate nutrients from seawater. Ecologically important traits thought to have evolved among some groups of crinoids due to predation include an increase in mobility from fully sessile to crawling to swimming; an ability to regenerate lost body parts; biochemical defenses that make them distasteful.

Using Wastewater-based Epidemiology to Measure SARS-CoV-2 Burden

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous influence on our daily life over the last year, creating significant issues. Clinical testing was initially unavailable and then quite limited, which limited our capacity to interpret the full scale of the pandemic. Wastewater-based epidemiology, which can surveil viral burden of communities through wastewater treatment plants, emerged as a viable option to identify the SARS-CoV-2 burden in a given community. Our team is a member of a research consortium that samples more than 100 sites across the state of Michigan to understand COVID-19 transmission dynamics.

Lung Repair

There are two alveolar epithelial cell types in lung. Type II and Type 1. Upon lung injury, Type II cells serve as progenitors and differentiate into type 1 cells to heal the tissue. Our lab had had recently identified a novel transitional cell state assumed by type 2 cells as they differentiate into type 1 cells during normal regeneration after lung injury. We want to understand whether the transitional cells are related with ineffectual type 1 cell differentiation which may cause critical regenerative defect in pulmonary fibrosis. We set out with the goal of investigating the molecular mechanism of physiological and pathological alveolar repair in mouse model.

Tissue Crosstalk in Joint Injury

Post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA) is a serious disease that results from joint injury. It is characterized by cartilage deterioration, synovial inflammation, and the formation of abnormal bone growths. The Wnt signaling pathway is an important biological process by which cells respond to external stimuli. Overactive Wnt signaling within the joint is known to take part in the progression of PTOA. R-spondin 2 is a protein secreted by cells into the extracellular matrix that functions as an agonist for the Wnt signaling pathway. While R-spondin 2 is known to activate Wnt signaling, little is known about its role in PTOA. Here, we aimed to better understand the contribution of R-spondin 2 in the overactivation of Wnt signaling and how this process contributes to PTOA pathology. We hypothesized that, given the pathological role of unchecked Wnt signaling in OA, adding additional R-spondin 2 would exacerbate joint degeneration in a mouse model of PTOA.

Transgenic mouse models of diabetes

Diabetes mellitus is a very serious metabolic disorder that is a result of insufficient insulin production, which leads to uncontrolled blood glucose levels. Insulin is a peptide hormone that has a natural tendency to misfold and possibly form aggregates. Mice and humans share very similar endocrine physiology, and mice are often used to study diabetes. However there are some slight differences that must be considered for any experiment. Humans have a single gene, INS, that encodes for insulin, whereas mice have two genes, INS1 and INS2. The presence of insulin produced from two different genes leads to minor discrepancies in common protein analytical techniques such as western blotting. There must be controls in place in order to determine between insulin coded by either the INS1 or INS2 gene. This project seeks to establish a breeding colony of mice that are missing both copies of either the INS1 or INS2 gene.

The Localization of Pancreatic Islets Utilizing a Green Fluorescent Protein Proinsulin Mouse Model

Diabetes affects about 463 million people worldwide. It can cause various complications that affect several organs in the body. Diabetes is a disease that can be caused by insufficient insulin production. Insulin is synthesized in pancreatic beta cells located in clusters called islets. The laboratory of Dr. Peter Arvan at the University of Michigan is interested in the role of protein misfolding, and quality control systems including unfolded protein response (UPR), and endoplasmic reticulum associated-protein degradation (ERAD) in the development of diabetes. The physiological and genetic similarities between mice and humans allow the use of transgenic mouse models for laboratory studies.

The validation of the JH level manipulation methods using gene expression profiling of JH signaling genes

The migration phenomena of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are quite unique in comparison to many other migrating species. Recent population decline in monarchs requires a strong understanding of their physiology and behavior. Monarchs represent different populations, e.g., migratory, and non-migratory. We are interested in the hormonal and genetic regulations of these phenotypes and behaviors. The juvenile hormone (JH) is a key factor in regulating the growth, physiology, and behavior of the insect. JH is the primitive and sub-social in insects with gonadotropin nature, whereas its functions in eusocial insects, has changed to regulate the division of labor and task assignment. The JH of monarch is gonadotropin primarily but also has other adult life functions, e.g., diapause.

Lasers: Optical Tweezers for Medicine

Using laser beams as a means of manipulating and trapping particles on the nanoscale has been proven extremely beneficial to the fields of chemistry and biology. These “optical tweezers” are highly useful for their non-invasiveness and precise delivery of nano-objects such as metal nanoparticles. In this study, we will optimize a two phase ligand exchange process to develop stable metal nanoparticles. This two phase ligand exchange technique is a reliable and relatively straightforward method of producing stable metal nanoparticles capable of being used in a variety of biological applications.

Accreting Black Holes: Near & Far

4U 1755-388 and AT2020ocn, though these may seem like incongruous codes, they in fact mark the names of two differing, accreting black holes. 4U 1755-388 was discovered lying near the center of our Galaxy in 1971 as a stellar mass black hole and remained very active until 1995 when it entered a quiescent, or dormant, stage for 25 years until April of 2020 when a new X-ray outburst was recorded. On the other hand, AT2020ocn is a much more distant super massive black hole, and was discovered more recently in the same month that 4U 1755-338’s outburst occurred, and created an unexpected tidal disruption event, which occurs when a super massive black hole destroys a star that got too close for comfort due to incredible gravitational field of the black hole.

lsa logoum logo